The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana; [email protected]
Each year in recent times, as the ninth of Av approaches, we ask the question: How can we sit and mourn for Jerusalem, when the city has been so magnificently rebuilt? Why do we “afflict” ourselves for 25 hours when we have returned to the Jewish state in amazing numbers, and built a wonderful country from the ground up, with a superb army, world-class universities and a brilliant economy? Has Tisha Be’av become passé? These thoughts were reinforced last week when my wife and I took a Segway tour on the newly-refurbished Armon HaNatziv promenade. Led by our expert guide Chaim, we beheld a magnificent view of Jerusalem rebuilt, with its many sparkling new neighborhoods against the ancient villages and walls of the Old City. From that elevated view, one can truly appreciate how unique our Jewish capital is, and how it so brilliantly melds the past and the future.
Yet despite all this, I will still recite lamentations on Tisha Be’av; I will still add the somber Nachem plea for consolation to my prayers. Not only in remembrance for the spiritually-elevated world, centered around the Temple, which vanished when Jerusalem was destroyed (twice); but also for the shuddering thought of a third destruction, God forbid. For only when we force ourselves to consider what the effect would be of another Holocaust – this time on Israeli soil – can we begin to relate to the destruction that was visited here.
And so, with apologies to the History Channel’s “Life After People” series, I ask you to gather up your courage and consider A World Without Israel.
THIS SCENARIO – may it never come to pass - occurs sometime in the future.
The combined forces of Syria, Hezbo- Lebanon, a radicalized Egypt and an
only semi-reluctant Jordan – spurred on by the Palestinian masses, now
fully under the sway of Hamas – have flooded Israel with millions of
After bombarding the Jewish state with tens of thousands of missiles,
causing hundreds of thousands of Jews to flee (no easy task after a
shell-shocked Ben- Gurion airport is closed), Arab mobs have crossed our
borders, overwhelming the courageous but hopelessly outnumbered
soldiers of the IDF. The smell of victory finally in their noses, the
Arabs reject all international calls for a cease-fire and unleash a
brutal assault on the civilian population. The government considers
using nuclear weapons, but the enemy is already within the gates, and
the Opposition effectively blocks the proposal.
Independent Israel, as we knew it, has ceased to exist.
Three months after Israel: The last pockets of Jewish resistance have
been brutally suppressed. Thousands of Jewish fighters, summarily
executed for carrying arms, are slaughtered in the public squares. MKs –
present and former, including Arab MK’s – having been charged as war
criminals and accomplices to genocide, are also killed.
(Pointedly, the first to be shot are members of the Israeli Left, who
zealously defended the Palestinian cause .) The haredi population is not
spared; they, too, are slaughtered, despite their protests of being
apolitical. Only a handful of Neturei Karta are left unharmed – a reward
for their strident anti-Zionism through the years.
Six months after Israel: Hundreds of thousands of Israelis, seeking
asylum, find they have no place to run. The Arab League has ordained an
oil embargo against any country opening its borders to survivors. The EU
has declared a moratorium on all immigration, wishing to “carefully
study the situation before inflaming any further passions.”
Even those holding American passports are barred from entering the
United States if they have resided in a war zone during the past year,
in the interest of “national security.”
Meanwhile, those Jewish homes still intact are given to Palestinians,
while their former residents are placed in refugee camps, now called
“holding centers for foreign workers.” Starvation and sickness are
rampant, as the UN finally decides it will no longer be administering
One year after Israel: Judaism is no longer acknowledged as an official
religion in the new Palestine. Jewish practice among the skeleton Jewish
population is permitted only in private, and even then is subject to
The last remaining synagogues – branded as “centers of terrorism and
racism” - are consecrated as mosques, in line with Islamic law
forbidding any non-Islamic places of worship on “holy ground.” While
most churches are similarly converted, several of the more famous ones
are designated as “museums” and “cultural attractions” so as to continue
to attract Christian tourists.
The most dramatic moment comes when the Western Wall is dismantled,
stone by stone, as the foundation is laid for the Grand Al-Buraq Mosque.
Western criticism is muted.
10 years after Israel: Diaspora Jewry, devastated by the loss of Israel,
is in a state of rapid decline. In-fighting within the shrinking
communities pits those whose love for Israel still lingers against those
who blame Israel’s founders for having established the state in the
first place and bringing such destruction upon the Jews. The American
administration, anxious to maintain ties with the ascendant Islamic
world, categorizes Zionist organizations as “harmful to American
interests,” and forbids their funding and publications. Jewish schools
continue to operate, but their curriculum is subject to constant
inspection and are carefully monitored for signs of “subversive”
50 years after Israel: As world economies experience a deep decline, democracies declare a state of emergency.
Jews are scape-goated and subjected to increased discrimination.
Pogroms break out in several countries as Jews are accused of parasitism
and disloyalty. All Jews aged 18-25 are drafted, with no exemptions or
For their own protection, Jews are moved into closed-off sections of
major cities, and their contact with the indigenous population is
limited. The lack of Jewish influence and the absence of a homeland
leave Jews exposed to every form of abuse.
100 years after Israel: Intermarriage among Jews now exceeds 80%. The
combination of high costs and low demand results in only a fraction of
Jewish children receiving a Jewish education.
In the Middle East, internecine fighting between Arab nations over the
past three decades has left the region in shambles. Palestine, with no
natural resources and no wealthy donors, has become bankrupt and largely
The once-flourishing agriculture is but a memory, as fertile fields revert to wilderness.
In secluded places across the world, small groups of Jews gather to
discuss the idea of returning to Zion and reestablishing a land of their
own, a place where they may again walk proudly with their God. They
decide to meet in a special assembly, which they will call “the Herzl
Can it happen? I think not and I pray not. But I certainly will not take this great country, or Jerusalem of Gold, for granted.